Deputy Head of the Hamas’s political bureau Ismail Haniyeh said they remain keen on maintaining Egypt’s interests and national security in a speech on Saturday in Gaza.
Haniyeh tackled Hamas-Egypt relations, which have witnessed increasing tension in recent weeks, during a lengthy speech he delivered on Saturday. Haniyeh said: “We will remain keen on avoiding anything that can lead to tension with our brothers in Egypt or with any other Arabic or Islamic country.”
“We tell our brothers in Egypt that Hamas is not your enemy,” he stated.
Haniyeh denied any involvement in the recent surge in militancy that has taken place in the Sinai Peninsula or in Egyptian internal affairs: “We are no party to any incident that took place or that is taking place in Sinai…. And we at the movement [Hamas] feel shocked when Egyptian media services, and even officials, address the movement like it is a party that wants evil for Egypt, its security and army…”
Haniyeh claimed that Hamas is trying to respond to Egypt’s needs in order to serve Egyptian national security and added that they want nothing but security, unity and stability for Egypt. He described the allegations as “sheer accusations that lack any evidence.” He added that the people behind these accusations want to drive a wedge between Egypt and Palestine.
Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Nabil Fahmy warned last month that tough responses, including military action, will follow if Egypt feels Hamas is posing a threat to its national security. Fahmy added that there are doubts that Hamas is somehow related to “terrorist activity in Sinai.”
Since the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi on 3 July, Egypt has repeatedly closed the Rafah border crossing, which connects the Gaza Strip to the outside world. Egyptian authorities have often cited “security reasons” for the closure. Egyptian authorities have also recently destroyed hundreds of the illegal underground tunnels that connect Gaza to Egypt.
Haniyeh called for an end of “restrictive measures,” citing that they only serve the occupation and are not justified at all. He added that Gaza only expects siege and restrictions from the occupying enemy and “we expect support and cooperation from those who share our history”.
He called on officials and media institutions in Egypt to end their campaign of accusation and threats against the Gaza Strip and Hamas. Hamas officials had claimed in July that a media campaign to discredit Hamas in Egypt was launched with the involvement of its rival, Fatah.
Haniyeh’s speech was made in memory of the second anniversary of a deal reached in 2011 between Israel and Hamas, which secured the release of over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli prisons in return for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was captured in Gaza since 2006.